Ins and Outs of Interactive Notebooks for K

Interactive notebooks are one of my favorite classroom must haves! I decided to call them Kinderactive Notebooks because my kinders are VERY capable of learning through interactive notebooks. If you’re a kindergarten teacher, you CAN use these in your room with ease.

I absolutely LOVE resources that my kids can use over and over again. Within the past two years, I began moving away from things that my students can only use once and they take it home and it’s never seen again. If they can use something two or more times I am thrilled. One time… eh. Not so thrilled. This is where interactive notebooks come into play. These notebooks are yearlong tools. Scratch that. These notebooks are lifelong tools for my students.


What’s up with interactive notebooks

Since interactive notebooks have so much information to take in, I’m breaking down the in’s and out’s into more than just one post. This is the first of a few. You can check out the next portion of this over on my blog. I’ll be putting up another part every few days.

Today, I want to tell you how to get started. By getting started, I want to help you think out all of the little things that need to be done beforehand to prepare you. We’re going to discuss the WHAT an interactive notebook is and HOW you can get started.

Just in case you’ve never heard of interactive notebooks, let’s start there.

For me, my notebooks collect our learning for the year. It is essentially our textbook of learning. We refer back to these over and over again throughout the year even if the skill isn’t being taught or practiced at the moment. These notebooks can either be strictly for one subject or you can combine subjects to make it into a book.

If you’re brand new to interactive notebooks, the first decision that you have to make is what type of interactive notebook you want to focus on. There are many types of interactive notebooks to choose from, but here are a few example.

Types of Interactive Notebooks

My advice to you is to choose ONE. That’s right. Choose one. If you’ve stepped your toes into the world of interactive notebooks before, feel free to add another one. Four years ago, I decided to try notebooking with my students. I wanted to try a reading and a math one. This was the year that I taught first grade. I had a new set of standards, new grade level, new ideas, new classroom. See what all is going on there?

I took it upon myself to make two HUGE new tasks. Reading and Math notebooks. I hadn’t gotten down the management part of keeping up with notebooks and soon both of them went to the wasteside because I couldn’t keep up with them. I was under the impression that my students needed to do something every single day in them. WRONG!

This is why I give the advice to choose ONE type of notebook to do this entire year if it is your first time. There are MANY “teacher choices” that have to be perfected after you begin using them in your class. Are you ready to take notes? Here’s how you’re going to get started and excel with that one chosen notebook this year.

Choose your type of notebook? I’ll give you second to think about it… What’s your favorite subject to teach? Choose that one. If you like that subject a lot, you’ll be more likely to keep up with your notebook.

How to make it work?

Now that you know what you’re going to work with. Let me tell you HOW it works in my classroom for me.

We used science notebooks ALL the time last year. I also had math interactive notebooks. We dibbled and dabbled in some reading areas, but not much. The reading area was more about me finding out what I did and did not like. I was able to do this because I’ve already gotten down the basic of notebooking in my classroom from years of practicing.

The first thing that you have to consider is ‘What are you expecting your students to do? To learn? How do you want the notebooks to be used? Stored? Managed?’ This is just like the first week of kindergarten. You have to think out every single scenario. I’ll talk more about storage and management in a later post.
My expectations are that my students will use the knowledge that I’ve taught them and apply it in their notebooks. This knowledge and new learning can be used later in the year as they get so much smarter and learn how to use their new learning in their writing, with math facts, in reading and anywhere else they’d like to apply it. I never give them anything NEW to do in the notebooks. On the first day, I simply explain that we will be getting REALLY COOL new notebooks to make our own book. *excitement from little kinder faces* I tell them that we will only get this one notebook for math for the entire YEAR. We have to keep it safe and take care of it. Show them how to open it, how to close it, how to glue in their pieces… every little detail is shown in whole group.
Also show them how to cut. I teach them to cut out full rectangles first and then cut off one piece at a time. After one piece is cut off, they may glue it into place. If they need all of the pieces at one time cut out, this is the only exception to cutting a ton of pieces.

Fine motor practice while they learn

This is another reason why I love interactive notebooks for kindergarten. Any of you ever had a child with fine motor problems? I’ve always had two or three students with issues regarding fine motor. It’s their first time using scissors, crayons, glue and they just haven’t built up that fine motor skill as much as the other students. The options available with inbs gives these babies the extra cutting, tracing, and coloring they need.
In my case, we’ll be getting THREE this year, but will probably start out with one and I’ll tell them that they’ve gotten so good with them that we’re going to add one for reading and one for science.
The next thing that you need is a teacher planner notebook or plan preview or whatever you want to call it. What is that you ask? A plan/preview notebook is where YOU try out everything that you want to introduce to your kids before you want them to do it. I test out everything before I show my kids. I usually do this the week before or a few weeks before. For example, if I know I want to teach ocean animals in two weeks, I will pull out everything that I have or will find something to get for that topic. (I don’t actually have an ocean animals unit, by the way.) This helps me to see ways that I can differentiate it, how I want them to place it in their notebooks, what size I want to copy them and so on. As I’m making them, I usually get so many more ideas for ways we can use that one piece or activity. This is KEY. If you haven’t done this in the past, please make it a point to make a plan book as you go along this year. I actually have two different notebooks so far and the one in the picture above has about 10 more pages. EEK! This is GREAT because we’ve done a ton of learning.

Create your own notebook

The great thing about planning a book for yourself is that you only have to do it once. I will only add new things from now on. Everything that I made last year is still nicely glued into my notebook. At the beginning of our five senses unit, I can just flip over to the five senses pages. I can show my students how to cut it out, where to place it and any other details that I want them to know. I usually do not show them what I did under the flaps unless everyone’s will be the same. At the beginning of kindergarten, they like to copy so this helps them to be unique and think for themselves.

The last thing that you need to think about BEFORE you actually get started is how will your students refer back to these pages AFTER they’ve finished? I will say that every page will not be useful to refer back to. However, a large majority of what you do in the notebooks will be. I like to see their notebooks as their little kindergarten textbooks. They are making science, math, reading, and any other kind of books as you add new content.


Ready to try out notebooks?

These pages can be used again and again throughout the year. As the facilitator in the classroom, it is your job to model and set the expectation that your students need to refer back to their notebooks. I could easily let my kiddos complete this page and never look at it again. However, during writer’s workshop time Sophie is having a really hard time thinking of something to write about. I can easily suggest that she pull out her alphabet notebook and look at some of the words we learned this week about W. BOOM! She takes out her notebook and flips through it to get ideas. This can be done with ANY subject, any theme, any activity. You just have to be the creative genius to push your students to the next level and get them in the mindset of referring back. And guess what? You have your own notebook that you can use as a reference to look back at. How simple is that?
I hope this gives you a little insight as to why I love using interactive notebooks so much! Part 2 of this series will be all about supplies. It may be one of my favorites….

Thanks so much for checking out this post! Here’s a very small freebie to get you started with some editable science notebook covers.

The next post discusses all of the supplies you’ll need to get start. Find it here.

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